McFadden scores three in Ireland win over Canada
Peter O’Mahony proves leadership credentials once again as young side ends tour on a high
Ireland 40 Canada 14: Six tries, six new caps, two victories. This North American tour will never be viewed as a futile exercise by Joe Schmidt, Les Kiss and their incoming – soon to be announced – forwards coach.
For certain, both men now have fascinating and valuable insight into the enormous value that Peter O’Mahony brings to the party, both as a leader and versatile backrower.
“Without a doubt we found out a little about ourselves as players,” said Kiss after what eventually became a six try parade. “From a coaching perspective it was encouraging on a lot of fronts. Sometimes the perception is you can come and get these tier two nations and run it away easily but they were both tough affairs.
“Tonight until the 54th minute it was 14-12 (to Canada). We had to find something, keep our composure and again some fantastic leadership from Peter pulled us through to a place where we could have the intent to attack. And that ended up getting the tries for us.”
Paul O’Connell or Jamie Heaslip may regain the Irish captaincy in November but Schmidt has another genuine option in the 23 year old. That, as much as anything else, should be seen as a this tour’s greatest gift. O’Mahony was immense yet again only denied the official man of the match award by hat-trick of tries from Fergus McFadden.
“Last week Fergus shipped an injury in the game and he toughed his way through it. He trained through a bit of injury this week and got a knock in the game again but just keeps powering on. I can’t speak highly about him and the way he played.”
Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave and Tommy O’Donnell grabbed the other tries while Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson kicked the extras on a night that got very comfortable once the largely amateur Canadians faded around the hour mark. But before that, it was getting a little uncomfortable, certainly violent.
There is always a good chance of some niggle in the last game of a very long season. Canadians love any confrontational sport – we are in the middle of the Hockey play-offs and the city is enthralled even though the Maple Leafs are not involved – so toss an angry Corkonian into that equation and we had a feisty contest.
“I’d like to think that we’re smart enough now to get on with it and not get involved,” said O’Mahony earlier in the week when cheap shots was suggested as a possible Canadian tactic. “That’s not to say we’ll leave any player behind.”
Nor will he accept a sneaky stamp from a scrumhalf. Up leapt O’Mahony to deliver some choice words (“You know what you did!”) while scragging Phil Mack by the collar. Everyone piled in.
“It was two passionate rugby teams going at it,” said O’Mahony afterwards. “I don’t know what else you are going to expect when you come to an international game. There was niggle but you are going to get that in an international game. Two packs going at it tooth and nail up front at the breakdown. These things happen, you get on with it after the game. That’s the end of it.”
That was after 21 minutes with Ireland leading 7-6 mainly due to Devin Toner’s lineout platform – the Leinster lock fixed last week’s malfunctions by calling the majority of ball on himself – ensuring there was plenty of space out wide for Trimble to run in a 12th international try on his 50th cap.
But Canada regained the lead when James Pritchard, their Australian born kicker surpassed Gareth Rees’ all-time scoring record of 491 points with a third penalty on 24 minutes.
Ireland coughed up six penalties in the first half, the same amount they handed the US over 80 minutes, but this was a different type of game. O’Mahony was at fault for a few of them, but he was inviting bruisers like Jebb Sinclair into a war of attrition.
The tactical approach was noticeably more adventurous from the 15-12 US victory; Ian Madigan recovering from an early turnover, having embraced a bear-hug with prop Jason Marshall, to orchestrate McFadden’s first try. The Blackrock outhalf put in a sumptuous banana chip for McFadden to gather and scramble past two defenders.
“I thought Ian deserved the start after managing a difficult game (in Houston),” said Kiss. “It was quite seductive and tempting to actually overplay his hand last week but he controlled it and managed it and pushed the game where he needed to.
“Tonight, by pure virtue of the rucks having more flow that gave him that little bit more space, he did some lovely things, some lovely touches. There was some errors there as well but our intent was to play a little bit more attacking rugby.”
The two young leaders, Madigan and O’Mahony, went for the killer third try before half-time, sending a penalty down the line. It didn’t pay off. Canadian hooker Raymond Barkwill - blessed to not at least be sin-binned for a punch, justice quickly dispensed by O’Mahony once again - followed up with a blatant offside, as Welsh referee Leighton Hodges opted to dispense a final warning.
The excellent Tommy O’Donnell was agonisingly close to touching down before Canada lifted the siege.
That missed opportunity looked like it might prove very costly when Tyler Ardron powered for Canada’s only try six minutes after half-time to leave Ireland trailing 14-12.
The game was screaming out for a clever territorial-based approach to silence the 20,396 crowd. The Mexican wave flickered around the stadium – with the stunning backdrop of downtown Toronto – as people clearly embraced the $14 beers (life is good over here).
Finally, Ireland sparked to life with two tries in eight minutes killing off any fears of a shock.
Darren Cave profited from Kevin McLaughlin’s thundering break up the middle, but the next score, just before the hour mark, was undoubtedly the best of this North American tour.
Fergus McFadden inks his name into the history books, but it belongs to the locks, as first Dan Tuohy burst past Ciaran Hearn, illegally using his forearm, before offloading to a flying Toner, who in turn popped it up to McFadden.
The fifth try wasn’t long following as O’Donnell ploughed over Canada captain Aaron Carpenter after an instinctive reverse pass by Paul Marshall. Paddy Jackson, having relieved Madigan, added the conversion.
It ended with O’Mahony cajoling a final big scrum from his pack, angling it so Marshall could send McFadden scampering over for the hat-trick. Jackson landed the touchline conversion, just to keep that outhalf debate alive and very interesting.
The night couldn’t have gone any better for the onlooking new head coach, who even got to see Robbie Henshaw play six minutes at outside centre.
Schmidt, of course, will have to somehow replace the irreplaceable in that position around this time next summer.
Scoring sequence – 6 mins: J Pritchard pen, 0-3; 9 mins: A Trimble try, 5-3; I Madigan conv, 7-3; 17 mins: J Pritchard pen, 7-6; 24 mins: J Pritchard pen, 7-9; 27 mins: F McFadden try, 12-9. Half-time. 46 mins: T Ardron try, 12-14; 54 mins: D Cave try, 17-14; I Madigan conv, 19-14; 58 mins: F McFadden try, 24-14; I Madigan conv, 26-14; 67 mins: T O’Donnell try, 31-14; P Jackson conv, 33-14; 80 mins: F McFadden try, 38-14; P Jackson conv, 40-14.
Ireland: F Jones; F McFadden, D Cave, J Downey, A Trimble; I Madigan, I Boss; T Court, R Strauss, M Ross; D Tuohy, D Toner; K McLaughlin, T O’Donnell, P O’Mahony (capt). Replacements: P Marshall for I Boss (56 mins), P Jackson for I Madigan (59 mins), D Fitzpatrick for M Ross (61 mins), D Kilcoyne for T Court, S Cronin for R Strauss (both 65 mins), M McCarthy for D Tuohy, C Henry for K McLaughlin (both 71 mins), R Henshaw for D Cave (73 mins).
Canada: C Braid; J Pritchard, C Hearn, H Jones, T Paris; N Hirayama, P Mack; H Buydens, R Barkwill, J Marshall; J Sinclair, T Hotson; T Ardron, J Moonlight, A Carpenter (capt). Replacements: R Hamilton for R Barkwill (54 mins), S White for P Mack, P Rarfrey for C Braid (both 57 mins), N Dala for J Moonlight (both 61 mins), J Phelan for T Hotson (70 mins), A Tiedemann for H Buydens, D Woolridge for J Marshall (both 72 mins), L Underwood for A Carpenter (79 mins)
Referee: L Hodges (WRU).